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Nippert just settles for JFK win

Lundblad sets women's mark

November 20, 2005|By KEVIN SPRADLIN

WILLIAMSPORT - Howard Nippert went for the course record at the 43rd Annual JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon and failed. Anne Lunblad simply wanted a nice, even-paced race. She got that, and much more.

Lundblad, 39, of Asheville, N.C., smashed the women's course record and finished seventh overall in six hours, 29 minutes and 42 seconds. The old mark of 6:50:56 was set by Teri Gerber in 1984.

Hagerstown's Andy Mason was the top male Washington County finisher, crossing the line in 6:51:56. The county's first female was Rhonda Keilholtz of Hancock, who finished in 10:27:24.

Lundblad trailed Eagle River, Alaska, resident Julie Udchachon coming off the trails. It turned out that Lundblad's strength was Udchachon's weakness.

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"I was waiting for the flat part," Lundblad said of the 26-mile portion of the C&O Canal towpath.

The towpath started at the 15.5-mile mark. At that point, Udchachon had a small lead. Ten miles later, though, that lead was shortening.

"I got her in front of me, and I pulled even with her around 25 miles," Lundblad said. "It was harder to run beside her than behind her, so I let her be in front for a few miles. At 36 miles, I took the lead."

And she held on for good. Coming off the towpath in the final 8.4 miles, she could have slowed and still beat the record, but that wasn't in Lundblad's plans.

"People were shouting to me, 'Slow down, (Julie's) too far behind to catch you, and you'll still get the record,'" Lundblad said. Lundblad's only other attempt on this course in 2000 was in 7:16:02, and that time left her wanting to give her best effort this year.

"I wanted to beat that record as much as possible," Lundblad said.

Udchachon, on the other hand, could have used more hills.

"I loved the AT, it was awesome," said Udchachon, whose mark of 6:40:53 also bettered the previous course record and earned her a 12th-place finish. "I love the challenge of all the hills. I'm used to that, and it's fun."

After her first JFK, Udchachon saw plenty of room for improvement.

"I just don't do enough," she said. "I don't do enough speed work. Still, I thought if I finished under seven hours, I was lucky."

And Udchachon loved the Appalachian Trail.

"The AT was awesome," Udchachon said. "It'd be nice if the whole race was on the trails, but as it is, the race has a really nice personality."

Though Nippert, 40, of Fork Union, Va., didn't get the course record, he did win for the second time in two tries and lowered the Master's record to 5:51.28. The old standard was 6:06:42 set in 1998 by Eric Clifton.

Nippert has won every ultramarathon he's finished in the United States.

"I'm running the human race, and he's running the alien race," said runner-up Ian Torrence during mile 35. "He's super human. No one's gonna catch him."

And no one did.

Torrence led the field coming off the AT in 1:56:42. Nippert was fifth, a little more than two minutes of the pace. Over the next few miles, however, Nippert assumed control.

At 35 miles, Nippert seemingly had the race in hand. It was a battle for second again for Torrence, who passed Leigh Schmitt and Ben Nephew. Torrence finished in 6:15:11. Schmitt was third (6:17:46) and Nephew was fourth (6:18:39).

Notes: The Men's Masters record was one of four records to fall on Saturday. Connie Gardner of Medina, Ohio, lowered her Women's Masters record from 7:31, set last year, to 7:20:12. ... This year's race had the most finishers (951) of any ultramarathon held on American soil.

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